Microsoft Publisher for Mac does not exist unfortunately but the good news is there are some great alternatives to Publisher for Mac 2016 and you can open and edit Publisher files on Mac. We’ve taken a look at the best alternatives to Publisher for Mac and we also show you how to open and edit Publisher files on Mac for free. You’ll actually find that many alternatives to Publisher on Mac such as InDesign and Lucidpress are far better than MS Publisher. Macs are far more geared towards Desktop Publishing (DTP) than PCs and there are many excellent alternatives to choose from for all budgets. Here we take a look at the best desktop publishing software alternatives to Windows Publisher for Mac and then we’ll also show you a way to open and edit .pub files on Mac without having to download any other software.
Publisher For Mac: Best Alternatives
Important Note: You cannot access Publisher on your Mac via Office 365 online. Some Mac users think that if they have an Office 365 account, they will be able to use PC only software such as Microsoft Publisher, Project, Access and Visio on their Mac. These parts of the Microsoft Office suite, including Publisher, are only available on the PC version Microsoft Office or by downloading Publisher separately for PC. (If you need to use any Microsoft Office programs that are not available for Mac, you might be interested in our article on the best alternatives to Visio for Mac, Project for Mac and Access for Mac).
These Microsoft Publisher alternative reviews include a combination of paid and best free alternatives to Publisher for Mac, costing anything from $17.99 upwards. Some of them such as Adobe InDesign for Mac and Lucidpress for Mac require a monthly subscription instead which is an increasingly common software payment model nowadays but has the advantage that there’s no need for costly upgrades and less risk with technical issues as there is with desktop software. For most of the software featured here, you can download a free trial where available by clicking on the names.
Adobe InDesign is easily the leading industry DTP software for Mac and long ago overtook QuarkXPress which used to be the number one desktop publishing software for Mac users. While Quark stagnated from lack of development, InDesign has powered ahead and is now used professionally for everything from creating stationary, flyers, annual reports, calendars and posters to professional magazines, online interactive digital publications and e-books. Along the way, InDesign has become far more accessible to the average user too with an easier to use interface and a more affordable pricing plan as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. Previously InDesign would have set you back hundreds of dollars and months of training for a desktop application that needed upgrading every few years. Now you can be up and running with InDesign immediately for just $19.99 a month and because it’s hosted online as part of Adobe Creative Cloud, you don’t need to upgrade from time to time as it’s all done automatically. Of course, the downside of this is that you have to pay a monthly subscription but the power and features of InDesign outweigh this in our opinion if you really want to produce some professional looking online and offline publications.
Another plus of Creative Cloud integration is that you can start designing or creating publications on your iPad and then continue working on it on your Mac. Alternatively, you can create publications or designs on your Mac and make last minute edits or corrections on your iPad on the move.
For anyone that already uses Adobe products, the ribbon interface and toolbox will be familiar already. You can easily create multi-column text blocks, apply font styles or changes and wrap text around objects in a few clicks. Most impressive in InDesign however is the way it handles images. For starters, you can of course import high quality vector graphics from other Adobe apps such as Illustrator and Photoshop in a few clicks. However, the most powerful imaging tool is undoubtedly Adobe Stock which integrates into all of its Creative Cloud software. Adobe Stock is a huge repository of around 55 million royalty free stock images and videos including 4K quality. These are instantly accessible and searchable via the CC Libraries menu along the right hand side of InDesign. This means you can find and import high quality professional images and multimedia for virtually any subject which saves both time and money in sourcing images for your publication. Note that Adobe Stock requires an additional subscription on top of InDesign although you can also try Adobe Stock free for one month.
Exporting to the format of your choice is now extremely well integrated into InDesign meaning you simply have to click Export and choose the format of your choice such as EPUB, Flash, HTML, PDF Print and PDF Interactive.
Alternatively, you can publish directly online from Adobe InDesign for Mac to your own Adobe Portfolio site. You get 20GB of online storage space for publication and file storage with your Creative Cloud subscription and publishing to it is as simple as clicking the Publish Online button at the top of the interface. You can dynamically update publications you’ve already published too this way meaning it works well for news magazines. Note that anyone can view your documents online either via a public link or embedded in a website on any device without the need for extra plugins or a Creative Cloud account.
There’s no doubt that InDesign for Mac is the ultimate alternative to Publisher for Mac due to it’s range of features, general ease of use for a professional DTP software on Mac and ability to publish to all formats. The integration with Adobe Stock allows you to produce truly professional results without the need for expensive and time consuming photography too. InDesign definitely takes longer to learn and get used than many of the alternatives to Publisher for Mac featured here but the long term benefits and payback are worth it, particularly if you’re planning to create a commercial publication or are a professional publisher.
For $19.99 a month, you can start using Adobe InDesign on Mac straight away. Note that if you sign-up for a year, you pay $19.99 per month but if you sign-up for a month-by-month basis, Adobe InDesign is $29.99 per month. Alternatively, you can pay for an annual subscription up front for $239.88 per year. All plans include 20GB of cloud storage and your own portfolio site with premium fonts. There are also special prices for students, educators and businesses. You can also try a free trial of InDesign for Mac to judge for yourself before buying. Note that when you make a purchase from the Adobe website, by default the sales page automatically highlights “All Apps” as it encourages you to subscribe to the entire Creative Cloud suite. You have to manually select “InDesign” from the “Single App” category in order to purchase just a subscription to InDesign. Note that when you make a purchase, you’ll be automatically given a 30 day free trial of InDesign.
Although InDesign is quite powerful, Adobe has simplified it a lot to appeal to a wider market. Tere are also plenty of easy to follow InDesign video tutorials to help you get to grips with the software and you can watch it in action creating a postcard below:
Lucidpress is from the makers of Lucidchart diagramming software, one of the most popular alternatives to Visio for Mac, and is a user friendly online desktop publishing tool that lacks the power of InDesign but is both cheaper and easier to get started with quickly. Lucidpress is an online publishing software which means there’s nothing to download and it works on any platform. The basic single user version for just $5.95 per month serves well as a simple free alternative to Publisher although note that it can’t edit .pub files. You’ll need to subscribe to the Pro Plan ($12.95 per month) or Team Plan ($40 per month) if you’re intending on doing some serious desktop publishing on your Mac as they allow more advanced features such as embedding, custom fonts and saving in high quality 300 dpi print format.
Lucidpress is ideal for creating publications online and offline such as for making newsletters, magazines, posters, pamphlets or flyers and brochures. You can add dynamic, interactive elements to documents and it’s very easy to drag and drop images and objects into documents. Lucidpress doesn’t have anything like Adobe Stock for sourcing and adding images but it can be used alongside photo stock services such as Free Range Stock (free) and Shutterstock (paid plans) instead. These services aren’t actually integrated with Lucidpress and don’t have the range and quality of high quality images and videos of Adobe Stock, but they’re still very comprehensive and complete. You can however edit images in Lucidpress once you’ve imported them. Note that if you’re intending on printing the publication, check first with your printing press as to what quality the require images to be as print requires higher 300 dpi resolutions than online 100 dpi images. Lucidpress templates are already configured for the demands of high quality print media and there are lots of striking and professional free magazine templates to choose from. In fact Lucidpress has a very good choice of templates for all types of publications including brochure templates, flyer templates, newsletter templates and poster templates.
When it comes to sharing documents, Lucidpress is integrated with services such as Dropbox, Flickr and Facebook so that you can easily import images and graphics from them and also publish directly from Lucidpress to them. The export options are more limited than InDesign but you can export to PDF, JPG and PNG for offline publication or embed them online in a website or blog.
One of the strongest aspects of Lucidpress is team collaboration compared to most other Publisher software alternatives featured here, including InDesign. Lucidpress is an ideal alternative to Publisher on Mac or alternative to InDesign for Mac if you have to work as a team on an online magazine or newspaper which needs to be constantly updated. Lucidpress is built for collaboration and the team subscription supports from 5 to 300 users working on the same document at once. This allows you to see who is working on what, leave comments and chat to others directly within Lucidpress. You can also manage the permissions of users to limit commenting, editing or viewing. You can also see revision history so you can see who changed what, when and undo changes instantly.
Finally, the Pro and Team plans of Lucidpress also include analytics to track how people are interacting with your publication. These are obviously not as advanced as Google Analytics but they are a convenient way to get a basic overview of how your online publication is performing.
There are three different pricing plans for Lucidpress although Lucidpress is free for single users, the free version is limited to just 3 pages per document, 25MB of storage and only exports PDFs in screen 100 dpi (not print 300 dpi) quality. You also can’t embed document in the free version meaning it’s a good way to familiarize yourself with Lucidpress but not suitable as a serious publishing solution. Alternatively, you can try the full version of Lucidpress free for 15 days and there’s no need to give your credit card details until the trial is over if you want to continue using it. If you subscribe annually, you pay in one lump sum for the year but receive a 20% discount. There are also 50% discounts for non-profit organizations and free accounts for students and teachers. For a full overview of Lucidpress pricing plans, check-out the pricing comparison chart. You can open a Lucidpress document instantly by clicking here to get a feel for it although you’ll need to sign-up for a free account to save anything. To get you up and running, there are also several Luicidpress tutorial videos.
Overall, Adobe InDesign is still ahead of Lucidpress for professional designers and publishers but Lucidpress is certainly one of the best Microsoft Publisher alternatives in our opinion. The overall number of features, templates and publishing power of Lucidpress is much better than Publisher and you can see a quick overview of some of the principal advantages of Lucidpress v Publisher here:
You can also watch Lucidpress in action here:
It’s clear that Publisher Plus is heavily inspired by Apple’s Pages (see Pages review below) but has tweaked the user interface a bit to make it faster to use. The Lite version of Publisher Plus allows you to edit Microsoft Publisher files for free although it only allows you to edit or create a few limited pages and you have to pay buy the full version for $39.90 to unlock the entire app. One of the common problems with Pages is that for those that are used to Word, it can feel a bit un-intuitive to use with menus and tools constructed in a slightly different “Apple” way of doing things. Publisher Plus has a more familiar Windows feel to it and is as a result now one of the most popular alternatives to Publisher on Mac available.
However, there are a few disadvantages to be aware of. For example, there are plenty of templates available – over 170 in fact ranging from Magazines and Posters to Newsletters and Certificates – but the quality of them isn’t quite as professional as in Pages or Swift Publisher. There are other limitations too such as the text tool which doesn’t allow you to configure a style and there a fewer choices when it comes to drop shadows. That said, if you compare it side-by-side with MS Publisher, Publisher Plus actually has more features although it should be stressed, only if you upgrade from Lite to the full version of Publisher Plus for $39.9o with a 30 day money back guarantee if you’re not happy. Overall, if you’re trying to create a magazine, advertisement, flyers, resume or business card, Publisher Plus is generally an excellent desktop publisher for Mac.
You can see some of what Publisher Plus can do and watch a useful tutorial about how to create a flyer using it here:
Pages is the Apple equivalent of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher and used to be part of Apple’s answer to Microsoft Office, iWork. Pages can do both word processing and desktop publishing and so allows you to create anything that’s possible with Microsoft Publisher. If you’re used to Microsoft Word, it can take some time to work out where the equivalent functions are in Pages but it’s well worth the effort. With lots of professional looking templates and layouts, you can create some really professional results using Pages.
Pages does have its drawbacks though. Working-out how to format things, insert tables and move elements around the page isn’t as easy as it should be but again, all it requires is familiarity with how Pages works. Some users are also disappointed at recent versions of Pages which they feel aren’t as good as previous versions with some features removed or not as easy to find as before. Be aware that there isn’t much support for Pages or many tutorial videos either so if you get stick, you’ll find yourself having to Google the answer although Pages is so widely used on Mac, you’ll always find the answer somewhere.
Note that if you’re using OS X 10.10 Yosemite and above, you don’t need to buy the entire iWork suite to get Pages – you can download it separately from the Mac App Store for $19.99.
You can watch a handy tutorial about what Pages for Mac can do here:
iStudio Publisher is an extremely user friendly and powerful alternative to Publisher for Mac. If cloud solutions like Lucidpress or professional publishing software such as InDesign are not your thing, iStudio Publisher is an excellent desktop alternative to Publisher on Mac. iStudio Publisher produces very professional results and yet is very easy to get started with thanks to the well thought out video tutorials and Quick Start Guide. Creating brochures and documents is very easy – you can simply drag and drop images and text boxes into a page and export the final product to PDF. The only slight downside is that you can’t import and export Microsoft Word DOC files but you can insert content from Word files via RTF, TXT, PDF, and various image formats (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, PSD, AI and EPS). You can also export to PDF and ePUB.
For those that need to send the document to professional printers, iStudio Publisher also gives you the ability to work with colors in different colorspaces such as RGB and CMYK which isn’t very common on with consumer level Desktop Publishing Software on Mac and an essential option if you’re planning to get your documents professionally produced. And if you have any problems or questions, we can speak from experience that the developer is also very quick and helpful which isn’t always the case with DTP software on Mac (they’re now available on Twitter too). If you want a value for money user friendly desktop alternative to Publisher but don’t want to be locked into a monthly subscription, iStudio Publisher might be for you. And if you’re not sure whether to go for it, you can also try a fully functional free 30 day trial of iStudio Publisher before buying.
You can see more of what iStudio Publisher for Mac can do here:
Swift Publisher is another user friendly and slick desktop publishing software for Mac that’s become increasingly popular as a cheaper alternative to InDesign and Microsoft Publisher for Mac. It doesn’t require lots of learning like professional DTP software for Mac but produces professional looking results. Swift Publisher is ideal for producing bulletins, flyers or brochures and makes rearranging elements such as images, tables and text very easy. Similar to Apple’s Pages desktop publishing software (scroll down for more), there are 300 professional looking templates which you can customize the way you want. Swift Publisher is also integrated with iPhoto and Aperture and you can export your work to PDF, JPEG, EPS, TIFF and iCloud. You can also define bleeds and configure correct DPI for print publishing. There are also lots of easy to follow video tutorials to get you started with Swift Publisher although we found you sometimes have to Google certain functions to work out how to do them. Stability also seemed to be an issue when working with lots of images but for pamphlets, flyers and straightforward publications, it works very well. If you want an easy to use alternative to Publisher without a steep learning curve, then Swift Publisher is an excellent and economic option.
You can also watch an overview of Swift Publisher in action here:
In our experience, these six DTP programs are probably the best alternatives to Publisher for Mac in terms of price and functionality although there are some others worth an honorable mention which we’ll look it shortly. To summarize the differences between the publishing apps covered so far however, check the comparison table below. You can see that both InDesign and Lucidpress offer free trials which you will get automatically after you go to the purchase page and select a plan. Note that as mentioned earlier, with InDesign you must make sure you select “InDesign” from the drop down menu under “Single App” because by default, the Adobe purchase page highlights the most popular purchase plan which is usually “All Apps”.
Works on iPad
Drag & Drop
There are a few other programs worth mentioning including a few free alternatives to Microsoft Publisher on Mac which we’ll look at in more detail now. LibreOffice and Scribus are both free and although they don’t have the features and usability of the software covered so far, they’re definitely worth checking-out if you’re on a strict budget. LibreOffice in particular can even open and edit Publisher files on Mac although the formatting isn’t always preserved well and you can’t save documents in Publisher format after you’ve edited them. Finally QuarkXPress used to be the industry standard for Desktop Publishing on Mac many years ago but has suffered fom a lack of development and competition from InDesign on Mac. However, the latest version of QuarkXPress is a huge improvement and if you’re looking for a professional desktop publishing software without a monthly subscription, it might be for you (it doesn’t come cheap though at $349). We look at them all in more detail below.
Publisher for Mac: Free Alternatives
LibreOffice (Free. OS X 10.8+. Also available on Mac App Store. Also Available for OS X 10.6.8)
LibreOffice is a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office for Mac and is based on the popular free Office suite for Mac OpenOffice. As of version 4.0, LibreOffice is the only program to both open and edit Microsoft Publisher files for free although you can’t export to Publisher format yet. You can edit MS Publisher files on Mac using Draw which is LibreOffice’s loose equivalent to Publisher. As you can see from the example Publisher file imported into LibreOffice below, the interface isn’t as user friendly or as slick as Publisher but it does work. Also, the rest of the LibreOffice suite is incredibly powerful and is able to import and export almost all Microsoft Office formats perfectly well. If you’re looking for a Publisher alternative with an entire Office suite thrown in for good measure, LibreOffice is definitely worth checking out.
You can watch a good overview of LibreOffice below:
Scribus is a powerful professional free open source desktop publishing application which can do pretty much everything that Microsoft Publisher can and more. Scribus has plenty of templates to choose from including for brochures, newsletters and posters. There’s no reason you can’t produce professional looking publications with Scribus as these examples show. The main toolbar across the top of Scribus provides all of the main functions and there is a sliderule along the margins to help you be exact with your designs and layouts. As is typical with open source software however, you have to feel your way around Scirbus to get used to it. There is an extensive Scribus Wiki but it’s quite dry and there are no tutorial videos to follow.
Scribus isn’t updated very often as it relies on a small group of volunteers to keep it running so bear that in mind if you’re expecting lots of new features and updates regularly. Note that you also need to install Ghostscript on your Mac in order for it to work. There is no official developer support either although there is a Scribus community forum where you may find answers to your problems. If you want a free alternative to Publisher on Mac though, and have time study the manual, Scribus is a very powerful DTP program for absolutely nothing.
You can download the stable version of Scribus for free or if you’re feeling adventurous and don’t mind the odd glitch, you can download the unstable developmental version for free too. You can also watch a quick tutorial of how to get up and going with Scribus quickly here:
Finally, no review of desktop publishing software on Mac would be complete without a mention of QuarkXPress. QuarkXPress certainly isn’t free (in fact is probably the most expensive Publisher for Mac alternative you’ll find) but it is easily the most well-known and established Desktop Publishing Software on the market. However, its market share has taken a big dent over the past decade due to an increasingly bloated design and from the rise of Adobe InDesign and the incredibly powerful Adobe Creative Cloud suite. 20 years ago QuarkXPress was the industry standard DTP program on Mac but increasingly became slow, bloated, buggy and generally left behind. Quark has traditionally been the choice of professional publishers, magazines and newspapers so if you’re only looking for a simple alternative to Publisher, it’s also quite a complicated package to get your head round.
However, QuarkXPress has attempted to recover ground from Adobe with the release of QuarkXPress 2016. Some of the most notable features of Quark 2016 are the new color picker tool and ability to export HTML5 publications which InDesign can’t do as yet. There are other things QuarkXPress can do that InDesign can’t too such as the ability to convert PDF and AI files for editing, vertical kerning, gradients with different opacity settings and custom optical margin alignment for example. Note that you can’t open InDesign files although you can copy and paste InDesign items into QuarkXPress.
The new QuarkXPress is certainly an improvement on previous versions and one other strong selling point is that unlike Adobe InDesign, Quark 2016 doesn’t require a subscription. It’s just a one-off purchase of $349 for the desktop software which may appeal to some users looking for a professional desktop publishing software for Mac. For this price, you get a perpetual license with 60-days of free support, free dual activation, a cross platform license for Mac and PC and ongoing access to free updates. If you’re intending to do some serious DTP work and want to produce high quality professional publications without a monthly subscription like InDesign, then QuarkXPress is definitely worth looking at.
You can see an overview of QuarkXpress 2016 and learn what’s new in the latest version here:
How To Open Publisher Files On Mac For Free
If you don’t want to pay for any of these fully fledged publisher for Mac alternatives and simply want to open a .pub file on Mac, you can do so using LibreOffice (see review above). LibreOffice is the only application we know of that can actually open Microsoft Publisher files. However, if you don’t want to use LibreOffice and are in a hurry, there is a quicker way to open Microsoft Publisher files on Mac.
Try one of these solutions:
a) If you’ve been sent the Publisher file, ask the sender to export the .pub files to a different format. This requires the sender to open the .pub files on Publisher in Windows and then export them to a different format that can be opened on Mac. Just go to File – Export – Change File Type in Publisher and select the desired format.
b) If this is not an option for you, you can convert the .pub files to other formats such as Word and PDF online using an online converter such as Zamzar.
If Zamzar doesn’t work for any reason, or you just want to convert to PDF, try using online2pdf.com which converts documents to PDF online.If you just need to read the .pub files on Mac, then exporting to PDF like this is sufficient. If you need to edit the document too, read on.
How To Edit Publisher On Mac For Free
Update: Please note this tip does not work in the new version of Office 2016 for Mac. Microsoft has removed the Publishing Layout View in Word 2016 For Mac. It only works up to Office 2011 for Mac.
If you want to actually edit .pub files on Mac and you’ve already got Microsoft Word or another desktop publishing software installed, then exporting it to RTF format will allow you to edit it in most Word Processing applications. Microsoft Word for Mac can be transformed into a basic version of Microsoft Publisher if you go to View and then Publishing Layout View. This turns Word into a basic DTP software and is probably the closest thing you’ll get to Publisher on Mac. However, almost all other desktop publishing applications can open RTF files.
We’re sure that by using one of the solutions or alternatives to Publisher on Mac featured here you can live without Microsoft Publisher. Adobe InDesign still remains the leading professional desktop publishing software for Mac – and the most complete alternative to Microsoft Publisher – but as we’ve seen, there are also many other cheaper, competent alternatives. Lucidpress still remains the easiest online alternative to Microsoft Publisher on Mac although if you need something more complete, Publisher Plus and iStudio Publisher are surprisngly incredibly powerful, easy to use and value for money.
However, if none of them are what you’re looking for and you simply must have Publisher on your Mac, then we recommend our guide on Best Way To Run Windows On Mac so that you can have the best of both worlds. You can install Windows on your Mac either by using a virtual machine such as Parallels or by using Boot Camp to install Windows on a partition on your Mac. Both have their problems when it comes to running Windows software such as Publisher on a Mac though and we recommend you use one of the alternatives covered in this article.
If this article has interested you, you may also find our look at alternatives to other Microsoft software such as Access for Mac, Project for Mac and Visio for Mac useful too. Note that if you need to OCR a document and then edit or import the text into one of these Publisher alternatives, we also recommend you read our guide to the Best OCR For Mac Software.
If you have any other problems, questions or issues with these Publisher substitutes for Mac, let us know in the comments below.